23rd September 2017

No Reward for Fourth Place

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get the Crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”
1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (NIV)

First, we had super-Saturday of the Olympics 2012, and then we had amazing-Saturday and silver-Sunday of the 2017 world athletics. I watched most of the 2017 world athletics. I also watched I Am Bolt and The Life of Brendan Foster. After all that, I am still not an athlete, now in my later years, but I do like watching it.

The UK ended up with about six medals, but many UK competitors were just outside of the medal table, with many coming in fourth. There were some that were disqualified, like the long-distance walkers, or the high jumpers who couldn’t jump high enough, or those throwing things who couldn’t throw far enough to get into the medal tables. But what does this teach us about life? What can we learn from the athletics?

The apostle Paul had something to say about this, as you can see from the above scripture. But we need to go back into the book of Genesis to find out where we all became disqualified. In Genesis 2:16-17 we read about the trees in the garden of Eden and might ask, “Why did God allow the snake to be in the garden, and a talking serpent at that!?” Humorous as that may be, we know the snake was the devil who undoubtedly thought he was destroying God’s perfect creation. Genesis 3:1-7 tells us of this encounter where Adam and Eve and all humanity were disqualified from winning the race, so to speak—that is, from gaining eternal life. “You will not certainly die,” lied the snake to the woman in Genesis 3:4. And so was set in motion, death for all who have ever lived. Hebrews 9:27 (NKJV) says, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.”

But God, our coach, (to keep the analogy going) had a plan which involved time and effort and, in due course, he sent his son as a sacrifice for all mankind through which he re-qualified us, in and through faith (Ephesians 2:8). Our coach [God] could see we needed a change of heart and said in Ezekiel 36:26, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

We must die to free ourselves of our sinful nature. Romans 6:6-8 likens this to being crucified with Christ, that we can also live with him. Just like an athlete we must put in the effort, so that with encouragement from the coach [God] and instruction from his written word as well as from the leaders he has chosen to help us in this life, we will live again. “…Strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. ‘We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,’ they said” (Acts 14:22).

So, there we have it—we can learn many things from the athletes as we walk through our lives with our God, as our coach.

Prayer
Our Heavenly Father, thank you for sending us your son, Jesus Christ, to be our coach and an example for us. We give thanks for his sacrifice. Help us to fulfil our training here on earth so that we may be of service to you and the world upon Christ’s return, in Christ then we ask it.
Amen

Study by Mark Reynard

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About the Author:
Mark Reynard is a Deacon in Grace Communion Church.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion – Leeds
Garden Village Welfare Association
Community Centre
Pendas Way
LEEDS LS15 8LE

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2PM L

ocal Congregational Contact:
Malcolm Arnold
Phone: 01484-312347
Email: malcolm701@googlemail.com

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